Methamphetamine, also known as crystal meth, is an extremely addictive stimulant that is widely abused because of the immediate, intense euphoria that it produces. Meth can be taken in a variety of ways – orally, smoked, injected, just to name a few – and is so addictive because the intense high is short and the low that users hit after using pushes them to seek more, which leads to taking repeat doses.
Methamphetamine Facts: How Does It Affect the Brain?
Methamphetamine directly affects dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that functions as a neurotransmitter. It is known as the “reward molecule”, meaning that it is responsible for reward-driven behavior and pleasure seeking. Every type of reward and pleasure seeking behavior increases the level of dopamine transmission in the brain. Meaning, food, sex, good music, and other feel-good activities all affect dopamine. Unfortunately, so do super-destructive drugs like meth.
Meth releases dopamine rapidly into the brain and produces euphoria, and repeated use can easily lead to addiction, which is characterized by compulsively seeking more drugs and stopping at nothing to get them.
Long-term, meth can cause anxiety, confusion, insomnia, mood disturbances, and violent behavior. Psychosis can also occur, causing hallucinations and delusions. Chronic use can cause chemical changes in the brain affecting emotion and memory, something people may not regain fully even once they quit using.
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Methamphetamine Facts: How Does It Affect the Body?
Meth creates a fake sense of well-being and energy, which in turn causes users to push their bodies much harder than one normally would. The drug also decreases appetite drastically, leading to malnutrition, dangerous weight loss, and nausea. Other pitfalls of meth include but are not limited to insomnia, disturbed sleep, aggressiveness, irritability, convulsions, paranoia, all leading up to and including death.
Long-term, using meth can cause harm that cannot be reversed. Heart damage can result from the increased heart rate and blood pressure the drug causes, along with damaging blood vessels in the brain that can cause strokes. Cardiovascular collapse or death, liver, kidney, and lung damage have all been seen in long-term meth users.
Aesthetically, meth users tend to look like the walking dead. Between the malnutrition, sunken cheeks, hollowed eyes, open sores, and decaying teeth – over the course of just a year a meth user can look like they’re aged 40 years.
The methamphetamine facts are there – this drug does a ton of harm to a person, physically, mentally, socially, and emotionally. If you or someone you know is using meth, seek help immediately before any of the irreversible damage takes hold, and get your life on the right track.